The world is watching. A huge weekend for…
Their task is simple. Win a home game, which they have done on all but one occasion all season, and they win their first title for 44 years. And in facing a QPR side that have only obtained 11 points away all season in the Premier League, it should be easy. But this is crunch time. And this is Manchester City.
QPR have Mancini’s predecessor at the helm, and whilst he may protest differently, Mark Hughes would love to get one over on his former employees, especially if it allowed his former side United to clinch the honours.
City may have spent a great deal of money (and that’s a significant understatement), but this title win would still be mightily impressive. Their first for almost half a century, it would also leave United trophyless (Community Shield aside) for just the second time in ten years.
Their task is almost as evident, in that they must travel to the Britannia and win. Assuming Manchester City are victorious, Bolton will have done enough to keep their place at the top table.
Whilst Bolton wouldn’t choose Stoke as their final day away trip, the Potters have not been as daunting a prospect at home as in previous seasons. Ten Premier League teams have greater home records, and if they season started in January Tony Pulis’ men would be heading to the Championship. Moreover, Wigan survived on the final day last season in exactly the same scenario, Hugo Rodallega ensuring the club’s survival.
It would be a shame to see Bolton relegated, but in a season of numerous underachievers at Premier League level, they would only have themselves to blame.
Harry Redknapp needs fourth, you would imagine. Perhaps not for his own job security, but certainly if the club want to hold onto stars such as Rafael Van der Vaart, Gareth Bale, Luka Modric and Emmanuel Adebayor. To lose such players would be incredibly damaging for Spurs’ ideal of consistent improvement, and if two or more of the above were to leave, you suspect Spurs would fall back to a top six club rather than top four.
Thankfully, Fulham at home has traditionally been a comfortable fixture for many Premier League teams down the years, and although they have won two of their last five on the road, you suspect that some of the Fulham players may just have one eye on the beach.
For Harry, there can be no chance of letting that happen. It is a demand for three points, possibly followed by some serious supporting of Bayern Munich.
Another simple task, and one for which there is little need to dwell. Win at West Brom and Arsenal will have achieved their realistic ambitions – make sure you are the first club after Manchesters City and United. In truth, the changing Premier League landscape may mean that is the best clubs can hope for for the forseeable future.
Liverpool’s victory over Chelsea in midweek confirmed that the lowest Newcastle could finish in the table this season was fifth, an extraordinary achievement from Alan Pardew and his players. The dangerous thing for Spurs and Arsenal is that, while the pressure is on the London clubs to cement their places, Newcastle have absolutely nothing to lose.
The Geordies can go to Everton in front of a sell-out away crowd and have genuine end of season party. If they win on Merseyside and either of the clubs above slip up, the Toon Army could well be celebrating Champions League football on the 20th May. And that would be verging on the ridiculous.
His farewell appearance before leaving for pastures new and tempestuous. There may well be times in the next few weeks, months or years when Roy yearns for the comparative tranquillity of the Hawthorns, but the club will give him their thanks and respect.
After Sunday, Hodgson has an altogether more daunting task ahead.